Benchmark Gamma Spectroscopy Measurements of Uranium Hexafluoride in Aluminmum Pipe with a Sodium Iodide Detector

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The expected increased demand in fuel for nuclear power plants, combined with the fact that a significant portion of the current supply from the blend down of weapons-source material will soon be coming to an end, has led to the need for new sources of enriched uranium for nuclear fuel. As a result, a number of countries have announced plans, or are currently building, gaseous centrifuge enrichment plants (GCEPs) to supply this material. GCEPs have the potential to produce uranium at enrichments above the level necessary for nuclear fuel purposes-enrichments that make the uranium potentially usable for nuclear weapons. As ... continued below

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March-Leuba, Jose A; Uckan, Taner; Gunning, John E; Brukiewa, Patrick D; Upadhyaya, Belle R & Revis, Stephen M January 1, 2010.

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Description

The expected increased demand in fuel for nuclear power plants, combined with the fact that a significant portion of the current supply from the blend down of weapons-source material will soon be coming to an end, has led to the need for new sources of enriched uranium for nuclear fuel. As a result, a number of countries have announced plans, or are currently building, gaseous centrifuge enrichment plants (GCEPs) to supply this material. GCEPs have the potential to produce uranium at enrichments above the level necessary for nuclear fuel purposes-enrichments that make the uranium potentially usable for nuclear weapons. As a result, there is a critical need to monitor these facilities to ensure that nuclear material is not inappropriately enriched or diverted for unintended use. Significant advances have been made in instrument capability since the current International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) monitoring methods were developed. In numerous cases, advances have been made in other fields that have the potential, with modest development, to be applied in safeguards applications at enrichment facilities. A particular example of one of these advances is the flow and enrichment monitor (FEMO). (See Gunning, J. E. et al., 'FEMO: A Flow and Enrichment Monitor for Verifying Compliance with International Safeguards Requirements at a Gas Centrifuge Enrichment Facility,' Proceedings of the 8th International Conference on Facility Operations - Safeguards Interface. Portland, Oregon, March 30-April 4th, 2008.) The FEMO is a conceptual instrument capable of continuously measuring, unattended, the enrichment and mass flow of {sup 235}U in pipes at a GCEP, and consequently increase the probability that the potential production of HEU and/or diversion of fissile material will be detected. The FEMO requires no piping penetrations and can be installed on pipes containing the flow of uranium hexafluoride (UF{sub 6}) at a GCEP. This FEMO consists of separate parts, a flow monitor (FM) and an enrichment monitor (EM). Development of the FM is primarily the responsibility of Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and development of the EM is primarily the responsibility of Los Alamos National Laboratory. The FM will measure {sup 235}U mass flow rate by combining information from measuring the UF{sub 6} volumetric flow rate and the {sup 235}U density. The UF{sub 6} flow rate will be measured using characteristics of the process pumps used in product and tail UF{sub 6} header process lines of many GCEPs, and the {sup 235}U density will be measured using commercially available sodium iodide (NaI) gamma ray scintillation detectors. This report describes the calibration of the portion of the FM that measures the {sup 235}U density. Research has been performed to define a methodology and collect data necessary to perform this calibration without the need for plant declarations. The {sup 235}U density detector is a commercially available system (GammaRad made by Amptek, www.amptek.com) that contains the NaI crystal, photomultiplier tube, signal conditioning electronics, and a multichannel analyzer (MCA). Measurements were made with the detector system installed near four {sup 235}U sources. Two of the sources were made of solid uranium, and the other two were in the form of UF{sub 6} gas in aluminum piping. One of the UF{sub 6} gas sources was located at ORNL and the other at LANL. The ORNL source consisted of two pipe sections (schedule 40 aluminum pipe of 4-inch and 8-inch outside diameter) with 5.36% {sup 235}U enrichment, and the LANL source was a 4-inch schedule 40 aluminum pipe with 3.3% {sup 235}U enrichment. The configurations of the detector on these test sources, as well as on long straight pipe configurations expected to exist at GCEPs, were modeled using the computer code MCNP. The results of the MCNP calculations were used to define geometric correction factors between the test source and the GCEP application. Using these geometric correction factors, the experimental 186 keV counts in the test geometry were extrapolated to the expected GCEP geometry, and calibration curves were developed. A unique method to analyze the measurement was also developed that separated the detector spectrum into the five detectable decay gamma rays emitted by {sup 235}U in the 120 to 200 keV energy range. This analysis facilitated the assignment of a consistent value for the detector counts originating from {sup 235}U decays at 186 keV. This value is also more accurate because it includes the counts from gamma energies other than 186 keV, which results in increased counting statistics for the same measurement time. The 186 keV counts expected as a function of pressure and enrichment are presented in the body of this report. The main result of this research is a calibration factor for 4-inch and 8-inch schedule 40 aluminum pipes. For 4-inch pipes, the {sup 235}U density is 0.62 {sup 235}U g/m{sup 3} per each measured 186 keV count.

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  • Report No.: ORNL/TM-2009/148
  • Grant Number: DE-AC05-00OR22725
  • DOI: 10.2172/976026 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 976026
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc933614

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  • January 1, 2010

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • Nov. 13, 2016, 7:26 p.m.

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  • Nov. 21, 2016, 6:36 p.m.

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March-Leuba, Jose A; Uckan, Taner; Gunning, John E; Brukiewa, Patrick D; Upadhyaya, Belle R & Revis, Stephen M. Benchmark Gamma Spectroscopy Measurements of Uranium Hexafluoride in Aluminmum Pipe with a Sodium Iodide Detector, report, January 1, 2010; [Tennessee]. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc933614/: accessed June 19, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.